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Twelve Apostles

INTRODUCTION: Jesus had many disciples during three years of public ministry, but he only appointed twelve men together as apostles; and he did not appoint those twelve until after he had prayed to the Father through the night. The chosen apostles were working class men; and the well educated religious leaders considered Jesus to be a blasphemer because he said he was the Son of God. The apostles faithfully followed Jesus until the night they fled from the mob that took Jesus to be crucified. After the last time the resurrected Christ appeared to the eleven apostles, they selected Mathias to take the place of Judas Iscariot, the traitor who hanged himself. Some of the apostles had very little mention in Scripture after Stephen, one of the seven "deacons," was murdered. Harsh persecution of the church resulted in many believers being dispersed from Judaea, but the Lord continued to expand His Kingdom of light and life through many dedicated believers.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the 1769 King James Bible.

A - TWO MEN BELIEVED JESUS TO BE THE CHRIST AND BROUGHT SOMEONE ELSE TO HIM

John 1 "32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. 35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! 37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."

John 1 "43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."

COMMENTS: Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, and Jesus invited him to join him when he was following, after having believed what John the Baptist had said about Jesus. Andrew then brought his brother Simon Peter, and Jesus at that time said to Simon, son of Jona, you will be called cephas (Note: Cephas and Peter both mean a stone). The other disciple of John the Baptist who had been with Andrew is not identified. The next day Jesus went into Galilee, and found Philip, and said "follow me." Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and told him they had found the one spoken of by Moses and the prophets: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Nathanael did not believe anything good could come out of Nazareth, but Philip said he should come and see. When Jesus described where Nathanael had been, Nathanael was so amazed that he declared Jesus to be Rabbi, the Son of God, and the King of Israel. Though Jesus told Nathanael he would see greater things, there is no clear explanation of those words.

The name Nathanael is not among any of the lists of the twelve apostles in Matthew, Mark, or Luke; but he will be named in another passage later in this study. It is very possible that Bartholomew was a surname for Nathanael with the commonly used prefix of "Bar" such as Simon Barjona being another name for Peter. The name Bartholomew is indicated in Strong's concordance, to be Hebrew, of Aramaic origin, meaning "son of Tolmai."


B - FOUR FISHERMEN AND A TAX COLLECTOR WERE CALLED BY JESUS TO FOLLOW HIM

Matthew 4 "18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him."

Matthew 9 "9 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

COMMENTS: Matthew chapter 4 records the first call by Jesus of four fishermen to follow him, but they were not yet appointed by him as members of his twelve apostles. Mark 1:16-20 is the parallel passage about this call to two different pairs of brothers whose trade was common fishermen. Then Matthew chapter 9 gives the account written by the publican Matthew about his own call to follow Jesus. However, additional detail in Mark 2:14 states, "he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him." Then in Luke 8:27-29 we find "he saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his own house." All three passages in the gospel accounts end with the same criticisms from the Pharisees to the disciples at that feast, and the response given by Jesus: so it is clear Matthew is the same man as Levi.


C - THE NAMES OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES CHOSEN BY JESUS

Matthew 10 "1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him."

Mark 3 "13 And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. 14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, 15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: 16 And Simon he surnamed Peter; 17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: 18 And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, 19 And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house."

Luke 6 "6 And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. 9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? 10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus. 12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; 14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, 16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor."

COMMENTS: The appointment of twelve apostles is listed in the gospels: in Matthew chapter 10 of the total of 28 chapters, in Mark chapter 3 of 16, and in Luke chapter 6 of 24 chapters. Mark and Luke wrote gospel accounts, but were not named among the twelve apostles. The gospel written by the apostle John differs from the other three which are sometimes called the "synoptic" gospels. Each of the four gospels have some information not at all given in the others, and some information is similar but presented in a different manner. John does not give the specific account when Jesus appointed the twelve apostles, and there is some variation in the listing from the other three gospels.

Eleven men have clearly identified names in the list of apostles: Peter , Andrew, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Canaanite (also called Zelotts), and Judas Iscariot, who was the traitor. The name that is most differently listed: Matthew's gospel gives us Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Mark has the name Thaddaeus; and in Luke's gospel Judas the brother of James is the name given. All three gospels give two pairs of brothers, and Luke indicates a third pair of brothers: therefore, the selection of the apostles could not have been intended to have one representative by ancestry from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. There is no indication given for that to have been important.


D - PETER, JAMES, AND JOHN WERE TWICE SET APART WITH JESUS

Luke 8 "49 While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. 50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. 51 And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. 52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. 53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. 54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. 55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. 56 And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done."

Luke 9 "23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. 28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. 30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: 31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. 33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. 34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. 35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen."

Mark 9 "9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean."

COMMENTS: The record that Jesus restored life to the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue is in all three "synoptic" gospels; and Peter, James, and John were the only others to witness this besides her father and mother. Luke's account clearly states that the people had scoffed at Jesus when he said the girl was sleeping, because they knew she was dead. Jesus told the parents to give their daughter something to eat, but not to tell anyone what was done.

Jesus took only Peter, James, and John with him up on the mount of transfiguration, and they saw a striking change in the appearance of Jesus as he talked with Moses and Elias. Peter spoke out, but he was not truly aware of what they were witnessing. As a cloud covered them, The voice from within declared Jesus to be the beloved son, and instructed them to "hear him." Mark gave the additional information that Peter, James, and John did not understand when Jesus spoke of rising from the dead. This was another case indicating that the full identity and work of the Christ could only be revealed by the Holy Spirit to anyone, even the chosen apostles.


E - JESUS SENT OUT MEN IN PAIRS TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL WITH SPECIAL POWERS

Luke 9 "1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. 3 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. 4 And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. 5 And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. 6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. 7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; 8 And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. 9 And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him. 10 And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. 11 And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing. 12 And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. 13 But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. 14 For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. 15 And they did so, and made them all sit down. 16 Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. 17 And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets."

Luke 10 "1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. 2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. 3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. 4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. 5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. 6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. 7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. 8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: 9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, 11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. 13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. 15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. 16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. 17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."

COMMENTS: Jesus sent out his twelve chosen disciples with power over demons, and miracles of healing, as they shared the gospel. Herod was perplexed by differing opinions he heard about these things, and he desired to see Jesus. When the five thousand who had followed Jesus were fed, twelve baskets of fragments remained. This may not have been a coincidence as it links the number of twelve to these things done in the presence of the twelve apostles. The very next chapter in Luke tells of Jesus sending out seventy men with similar power, and that is found only in the gospel of Luke. The stated purpose for the seventy was to prepare in advance the places where Jesus would be visiting; and after they returned and expressed with joy there success to Jesus, there is no other mention of those men. But Jesus told those men that the best reason for them to rejoice was that their names are written in heaven.


F - THE APOSTLES DID NOT UNDERSTAND WHEN JESUS SPOKE OF HIS RESURRECTION

John 6 "56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. 59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. 60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. 70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve."

Matthew 16 "13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. 21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."

COMMENTS: When Jesus spoke figuratively about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, he knew it was offensive as it was taken literally. Then he asked how they would react if they saw the Son of man ascend up to where he had been before: this was a subtle way of asking if they understood that Jesus, the Son of God, had been born of a virgin to be among men, Emmanuel, as promised in past prophecy. The life giving spirit within each person who believes in Christ is the seal of the Spirit to eternal life when the present body will be replaced by an incorruptible body. When Jesus said that no man could come to him, except those given to him of his Father, this was another indication that he was one with the Father in heaven.

Jesus knew from the beginning who would not believe and who would betray him: and many disciples no longer followed him, so Jesus asked if the twelve would also leave. Peter addressed him as Lord, and said there was no one else who had the words of eternal life, and they believed and were sure that he was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus then said though he had chosen them, one of them was a devil. He did not reveal to them that he was referring to Judas Iscariot.

There was much speculation about Jesus being a resurrected prophet of the past, and the apostles knew about those opinions, so Jesus asked them what they believed about him. Peter declared, you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus told Peter he was blessed because he had not said that on his own, but "my Father in heaven " has revealed it to you. Jesus then directed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was Jesus the Christ. From that time forward he began telling them that he must go to Jerusalem, suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. What a contrast for Peter as he actually rebuked Jesus while at the same time calling him Lord, and said those things should not take place. The strong response from Jesus was to characterize Peter as being Satan: not desiring the things of God, but rather desiring the things of men. That Peter would rebuke the Son of God underscores the fact that it was only as the Father had moved in Peter earlier when he declared the true identity of Jesus.


G - THE ELEVEN APOSTLES DESERTED JESUS AND JUDAS ISCARIOT HANGED HIMSELF BEFORE THE CRUCIFICTION

Matthew 26 "45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. 47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. 51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. 52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? 55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled."

Matthew 27 "1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: 2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself."

COMMENTS: Jesus knew from the beginning who would betray him; and as he was being taken captive, he drew attention to the need for more than one detail of Scripture to be fulfilled. In that tumultuous night the eleven disciples were very confused, and finally fled as Jesus was taken away. These things would not be more clearly understood by his apostles until after the resurrection. Judas Iscariot knew his betrayal of Jesus was sinful, but the priests who had paid him were completely unfeeling to his confession of guilt. He did not seek forgiveness and mercy from the LORD God, but rather ended his own life.


H - JESUS APPEARED TO HIS DISCIPLES AFTER HIS RESURRECTION

John 20 "24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."

John 21 "1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. 6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. 8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. 9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. 10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. 11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. 12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. 15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me."

Acts 1 "1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. 12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. 13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."

COMMENTS: I chose to begin at verse 24 in John chapter 20 to emphasize how Thomas had not believed the testimony of the other ten to whom Jesus had appeared, but needed direct proof for himself. That passage refers to Thomas as "one of the twelve" but the word disciples (not apostles) is used in the passage. After Thomas declared "my Lord and my God" Jesus stated how blessed would be those who would believe in him though not having seen him as Thomas had. Since Christ is the Living Word, countless numbers of people have indeed believed in Christ Jesus over the centuries without seeing him as did many of his disciples.

In John chapter 21, Thomas is listed just after Peter, then Nathanael of Cana in Galilee who likely is the same person as Bartholomew in all three specific lists of the Apostles. The sons of Zebedee are not listed separately by their names as James and John, and there were two other disciples with no names given. These disciples were at Tiberias (Galilee) and were once again apparently engaging in commercial fishing. The risen Lord demonstrated how he could give overwhelming material success after they had caught nothing; but he also spoke to Peter three times to say that Peter now needed to live out his love for Christ by "feeding the Lord's sheep." He also indicated that Peter's life would end in a manner that would be very unpleasant. There was no forewarning about the death awaiting James, the brother of John.

The book of Acts opens with the record that the Lord had appeared over a period of forty days showing many infallible proofs of his resurrection. While the disciples were assembled at Jerusalem, the Lord gave them instructions about the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that they were to be witnesses for him and the Kingdom of God. After they saw him ascend in a cloud to return to heaven at the mount called Olivet, they were told by two angels that Christ would come again in the same manner as they saw him leave. When they were back in Jerusalem the disciples were united as they regularly gathered for prayer and earnest requests to the Lord, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. Women were very much a part of these gatherings of those who had by faith, accepted Christ Jesus as their own Lord and Savior.


I - THE ELEVEN APOSTLES CHOSE A REPLACEMENT FOR JUDAS ISCARIOT

Acts 1 "15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) 16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. 17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. 20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. 21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. 23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."

COMMENTS: In this passage from Acts, Peter was applying a prophetic passage from Psalms as he followed a pattern of many such passages being fulfilled when Christ appeared. Peter prayed that the Lord would guide the selection process by lot, between the two chosen candidates who had met the qualifications Peter had outlined. When the lot was cast, Mathias was numbered among the apostles.


J - STEPHEN WAS KILLED BY JEWS AND SAUL BEGAN VIGOROUS PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH

Acts 7 "51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. 54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."

Acts 8 "1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city."

Acts 8 "14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."

COMMENTS: The closing verses of Acts chapter 7 detail the stoning of Stephen, one of the seven "deacons" chosen by the apostles. Chapter 8 then describes that a great persecution developed and many were scattered, but the apostles remained in Jerusalem. The gospel was spread through that dispersion, but Saul became one of the vigorous opponents of the gospel as he believed it to be blasphemous against the God of the Jews. Philip took the gospel and it reached into hearts in Samaria, though Samaritans were greatly disliked because they were Jews who had intermarried with Gentiles. Peter and John were sent by the apostles at Jerusalem, and they returned after confirming true conversions.


K - SAUL WAS CONVERTED BY THE RISEN LORD

Acts 9 "17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? 22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. 31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied."

COMMENTS: After Saul was converted by the risen Lord as he was on his way to Damascus, he was just as vigorous in presenting Jesus as the Christ as he had been in persecuting believers. Then he became the target of Jews at Damascus who planned to kill him as a blasphemer, and he had to escape and go to Jerusalem. He was not trusted there until Barnabas became his advocate and he was again very outspoken about Christ Jesus. Saul became under the threat to be killed by Grecians at Jerusalem, and he had to be helped to flee to his home city of Tarsus.


L - SALVATION CAME TO THE GENTILES ALSO BY CHRIST JESUS

Acts 11 "1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. 4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, 5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: 6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. 8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. 9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven. 11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. 12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house: 13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."

COMMENTS: Peter was strongly criticized when Jews at Jerusalem heard that he had eaten with Gentiles, but he gave details of his directions from the Lord in this matter at Joppa. When Peter had given his complete explanation, his critics had no more objections, and they glorified God for granting the Gentiles repentance unto life.


M - SAUL AND BARNABAS WENT TO JERUSALEM BEFORE HEROD KILLED JAMES

Acts 11 "19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. 22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. 23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. 25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. 27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul."

Acts 12 "1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. 5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. 6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. 7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. 8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. 9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. 11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. 12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. 14 And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. 15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. 16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place."

Acts 15 "22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: 25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. 30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: 31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation."

COMMENTS: Beginning at verse 19 in Acts 11 we find that ordinary believers who had dispersed after the stoning of Stephen spread the gospel, first among Jews, but then some shared with Gentiles. When news of conversion of Gentiles at Antioch was heard by the church in Jerusalem, Barnabas was sent to Antioch. Barnabas believed the conversions were authentic, and he then brought Saul from Tarsus to minister together at Antioch. When they later learned of the need for aide in Judaea, Barnabas and Saul carried donated relief from the church at Antioch to be distributed by the elders. Chapter twelve opens with the statement that at about that time Herod the king killed James, the brother of John, with the sword; and when he saw it pleased the Jews, he had Peter placed into prison with the plans to soon kill him also. The church prayed fervently to God and Peter was miraculously brought out of the prison by an angel. He let those praying for him know he was free, then went to an undisclosed location for safety.

Since chapters 13 and 14 of Acts describe the "first missionary journey" of Paul with Barnabas with no mention of any of the eleven apostles, I did not include any portions of them. In chapter 15 of Acts, Paul and Barnabas went from Antioch to Jerusalem to ask for a decision from the apostles and elders regarding the issue of circumcision of Gentiles. The leadership was in agreement and sent the message back to Antioch that Gentile believers need not be circumcised, and this was received as a joyful consolation. There is no further detail about any of the eleven apostles in Acts after chapter fifteen. There are writings in the New Testament from Matthew, John, and Peter; and the letters of James and Jude are considered by many to be written by two of the apostles. The gospel writers Mark and Luke were not named among the twelve apostles.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

LORD, there are so many ways that you have worked through the centuries to draw men and women to a life that will never end when they believe you are the God of the living and not of the dead. Jesus, you allowed three of your apostles to see On the mount of transfiguration, Moses and Elias alive as you called them from your eternal Kingdom of God to briefly appear with you. I believe, Lord Jesus, that there were aspects of prophecy, as well as other spiritually designed factors that we may not comprehend, when you chose the twelve men you appointed as apostles. There were many things that could not be understood even by the twelve while they were with you as you taught and worked many miracles. Before your resurrection, the fallen nature of man was more of a contrary influence within them. The apostles did not have equal roles in the ways you chose to use them in ministry. Your love for Jew and Gentile alike became very evident as your Word was more widely spread. Thank you Lord Jesus for drawing me by your grace to have the promise of eternal life because you opened my heart to believe that you are the Son of God. Help me, Lord, to be strengthened to trust you in every difficult matter in the course of my life when I am confused or even disturbed by personal experiences or other things around me. May I show the joy of confident hope to others that you provide for those who place trust in your Word; and may I regularly gather with other believers for mutual encouragement and praise to our God. Amen.

Published 30 March 2019